16 April 2019

Nigeria: Groups Kick Against Country's Serial Borrowings, China's FDI's

Photo: The Guardian

Nigeria's borrowing plans and the already accumulated obligations have irked a group of people, under the auspices of The Maroon Square, who said the nation's rising debt profile must be paused.

According to them, government should start managing available resources judiciously, as the crisis is not about outright lack, but poor application of what the country has for development and unbridled corruption.Speaking at "TheMaroonSquare Discourse On National Development", sponsored by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Lagos, Prof. Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, from the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University, said Nigeria has no business with borrowing if the government knows how to manage its resources.

Represented by the Programme Manager, Democracy Watch, Uzodinma Nwaogbe, he said government should focus on harnessing the nation's solid minerals so that other countries can come to borrow, rather than Nigeria borrowing from other countries to pay salaries and allowances.While discussing the topics: "Nigeria's Debt Crisis: Journey to Where?" and "Chinese Investment in Nigeria: An Imperial Project", Odion-Akhaine, argued that if the Nigerian government must borrow, it should only be for tangible projects.

"If we don't watch how we borrow, we would be a dependent nation because no country is a charity organisation. This programme is to sensitise people, so we can start challenging some government's decisions," he said.The Principal Counsel, Onyeisi Chiemeke and Associates, Chiemeke Onyeisi, said the issue of debt affects average Nigerian more than elections.He maintained that the Nigerian society is currently faced with leaders who tend to pursue flashy things above what is fundamental and the programme was positioned to give serious ideological training, backed by tertiary institutions.

Onyeisi stressed the need for Nigeria's educational system to have an alternative thought processes on salvaging the nation's debt issues, saying there must be justification in terms of spending what Nigeria has borrowed."If what we borrow is managed prudently, it won't be as problematic as it is today. Nigeria has accumulated debt close to what was obtainable in 2005 and if we continue in this manner, we would surpass the debt we had at the time of exiting the Paris club.

"Delta State was making so much money from federal allocation in oil, but surprisingly, between 2013 and 2015, they borrowed the highest. To come out of debts, the best way to go is that Nigerians must grow Nigeria, not for few individuals, but for the benefit of all."Each factory we establish with the funds spent in real estate would employ nothing less than 20 persons and would lead to increased production and expansion," he said.

Similarly, Onyeisi warned that the government should be mindful of how it is allowing inflow of expatriates into the country, without recourse to quota, especially the Chinese investors, saying that there could be potential dangers.He said: "We live in a world where it is difficult to say that foreigners should not be part of the economy, but we should lead and show them what to do in our country."If foreigners are going to invest in the country, the whole process should be structured. The government should not allow foreigners into the economy where an average Nigerian has a comparative advantage.

"For instance, the slippers and plastic produced by the Chinese and imported into the country can be locally produced. They bring returns quickly but don't develop the economy."The Chinese have structured their lending in the manner where it would be tied to projects, but we also need to determine the best option for ourselves. Every time you depend on foreigners to develop your country, you are asking them to underdevelop the economy. "The Chinese are at the forefront. They come in with their own technologies and experts, making it difficult to involve the experts in Nigeria. Science is practical, meaning that you work on something and learn today, work on it tomorrow and improve."

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